Thank you for saving Eiva

Keith Ribchester, with daughter Eiva, from Butts Bridge, Leigh, who is planning a charity walk of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal to raise money for Alder Hey Children's Hospital where Eiva was a patient
Keith Ribchester, with daughter Eiva, from Butts Bridge, Leigh, who is planning a charity walk of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal to raise money for Alder Hey Children's Hospital where Eiva was a patient
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A DAD will thank a hospital which performed vital open heart surgery on his tiny baby daughter by embarking on a massive charity trek.

Little Eiva Ribchester was just four months old when she had to endure a six-hour ordeal in the operating theatre at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool to close three large holes in her heart.

Worried parents Keith Ribchester and Gemma Ralphs, from Leigh, had to spend 10 days at the hospital while the tiny tot recovered from the operation before taking her for further surgery in Manchester in September.

Dad Keith, who works as a chef in Aspull, has now pledged to walk the entire length of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal in just two days to raise money for the Liverpool establishments whose surgeons have transformed Eiva’s life.

Mum Gemma, 27, said: “Before the surgery she would have outbursts of screaming and turn red. We could tell she was in pain but didn’t know what it was. Within 24 hours of the operation it had all stopped. She would sleep through the night, she was happy playing and we couldn’t hear her panting for breath.

“We were thrilled we got to bring her home and it was just a huge relief.”

Eiva’s heart problem was noticed soon after she was born in February, with the family at one point being given an oxygen tank as her heart’s inability to pump enough blood put pressure on her lungs.

The surgery at Alder Hey to correct defects to both the upper and lower chambers of Eiva’s heart and close a duct which prevented blood flowing into her lungs before birth, means the youngster’s troubles with her heart should be over.

Her parents are now looking forward to her leading a normal life once a stoma created by the September surgery closes.

Gemma heaped praise on the staff at Alder Hey after she and Keith were able to stay at the hospital’s residential facility, Ronald McDonald House, during Eiva’s time as a patient.

She said: “It’s an unbelievable place. The nurses look after you as a parent as well as your baby, and the doctors and surgeons come round the wards every day after surgery to check everything is all right. Ronald McDonald House means you’re able to get out of the hospital ward, and you also get to meet other mums and dads going through the same thing.”

Keith, meanwhile, is laying ambitious plans for his own thank you to Alder Hey and preparing to complete the 127.5-mile journey along the canal towpath from Yorkshire to Merseyside in just two long, footsore days.

The walk is planned for next June. To find out more, visit www.justgiving.com/Keith-Ribchester